By Alex Spillius
Bush gives hint of life after the White House
Mon Sep 3, 2007 00:24

Bush gives hint of life after the White House

By Alex Spillius in Washington
Last Updated: 1:21am BST 03/09/2007

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George W Bush is looking forward to working less after leaving office and to making some easy money giving speeches, according to a new book that gives the most intimate portrait yet of his presidency.

Junior and Senior: Bush hopes to 'replenish the ol' coffers' by giving speeches after his term is over

Mr Bush said: "I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch."

Worth an estimated $21 million (10.5 million) - made mostly before he took office in 2000 - he said that to begin with, "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers. I don't know what my dad gets - it's more than 50-75 thousand dollars per speech." He also noted: "Clinton's making a lot of money."

Mr Bush opened the doors of the White House to Robert Draper, a journalist and fellow Texan, whose book, Dead Certain, is to be published tomorrow.

Until now, the president has dismissed talk of his life after the White House saying he was too busy.

His dwindling number of supporters will find his thoughts honest and home-spun, while his critics will lament an unpresidential flippancy and a calamitous failure to attend to policy detail.

Within hours of excerpts of Mr Draper's interviews being published in the New York Times yesterday, bloggers were poring over them.

"This guy is president of the United States? Seriously?" wrote Kevin Drum on the liberal Washington Monthly website.

"Damn right it's serious. Very serious. The guy couldn't be more delusional, ignorant, and a complete jacka--," replied another contributor. Despite his protestations to the contrary, the 43rd president comes across as concerned about his place in history but convinced he has done the right thing in Iraq.

He does however admit mistakes. He not only confessed that the decision by Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, to disband Saddam Hussein's army - and so fuel the insurgency - was a major blunder but it was taken against White House wishes.

"The policy was to keep the army intact; didn't happen," he told Draper.

In what the author took to be a clear reference to casualties in Iraq, the president said: "I'll bet I've shed more tears than you can count as president."

Asked if he lacked a shoulder to cry on he said: "I've got God's shoulder to cry on and I cry a lot."

The privileged son of a former president, he fails to remove the impression that the job has been rather an effort at times, with his wife Laura required to shake him out of a tendency to self-pity.

As the author earned the president's confidence, Mr Bush would order hot dogs and ice cream for their interviews, put his feet on the table and chew on an unlit cigar.

He plans to live in Dallas and set up a "wonderful Freedom Institute" welcoming students from around the world to study democracy, he said, in addition to a planned presidential library.

The most unpopular president for decades, Mr Bush is reasonably upbeat about his isolation, according to Draper, viewing it as a predictable outcome of his constancy over Iraq.

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